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2021 NFL mock draft: Daily Wildcat sports staff mock complete first-round

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"NFL Draft 2011" by mjpeacecorps is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

In preparation for an action-packed NFL Draft on Thursday, April 29, the Daily Wildcat sports staff got together and compiled a full first-round mock draft before the Jacksonville Jaguars are officially on the clock.

This mock draft is not based on what we think will happen. It is what each staff member would do if they were in command of the war room.

No. 1 Jacksonville Jaguars (Devin Homer) Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson) 

The Jaguars need help everywhere but they have to start somewhere and this is an easy pick. They need a consistent QB to do anything in this league. 

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No. 2 New York Jets (Seth Litwin)Justin Fields (QB, Ohio State University)   

The Jets need a QB in this draft after trading Sam Darnold to the Panthers a few weeks ago. Fields is a dual-threat player that is capable of carrying this Jets franchise. Fields has a plenty strong arm and is built like a running back perfect for the modern day NFL.

No. 3 San Francisco 49ers (Ari Koslow) Zach Wilson (QB, BYU)

I fully expect Wilson to go No. 2 overall to the New York Jets in the real NFL draft come Thursday, but in this mock draft we did, Wilson falls to the San Francisco 49ers in an offensive scheme under Kyle Shanahan where I believe he would flourish. Putting aside whether or not you like Wilson as a pure prospect, this is an offense loaded with weapons (George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr., etc.) that would allow almost any quarterback prospect to flourish. 

No. 4 Atlanta Falcons (CJ Lala)Kyle Pitts (TE, Florida) 

Coming in at 6-foot-6, 245 lbs and an unofficial 4.44 40-yard dash, Pitts is a generational athlete. Being paired with Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Matt Ryan, Pitts can put the Falcons back in the conversation for one of the top offenses in the NFL as they have to compete in a competitive NFC South.   

No. 5 Cincinnati Bengals (Seth Litwin)Ja’Marr Chase (WR, LSU)

Chase is just too good to pass up here. The last time Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase played together, they were electric. The Bengals desperately need some help up front, but lucky for them, this draft is deep at offensive line. Burrow and this Bengals offense is starting to look real dangerous. 

No. 6 Miami Dolphins (Bryan Savic) Penei Sewell (OT, Oregon)

Dolphins are going best player available here. Despite opting out of the 2020 season last year, Sewell is the best offensive lineman in this draft and has all the intangibles to be a multi-year Pro-Bowler. Sewell will give Tua Tagovailoa a lot of protection up front and will be a force in Miam’s already solid running game. Sewell will become an instant fan favorite in South Beach the minute he suits up for one of the most improved teams last season.

No. 7 Detroit Lions (Jordan White) Jaylen Waddle (WR, Alabama)

The Lions lost both their number one and two receivers this past offseason making a WR the obvious choice. Before a devastating injury early in the season, Waddle was poised to potentially be the best WR in college football instead of his teammate Devonta Smith. Waddle is one of the best playmakers available and will be an important piece for Jared Goff.

No. 8 Carolina Panthers (Sean Fagan) Jaycee Horn (CB, South Carolina)

This is my team, so I made sure to approach this pick with extra caution. With the acquisition of QB Sam Darnold earlier in the year, the Panthers took care of their quarterback needs. With Tom Brady and the reigning Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the division, there is no time to rebuild at quarterback. With the loss of CB James Bradberry to the New York Giants, the Panthers are in desperate need of defense. Horn provides that quickness and muscle that Carolina is lacking. Local corners have worked out well for the Panthers. Just go back to the 2015-16 season and see what CB Josh Norman accomplished. 

No. 9 Denver Broncos (Jacob Mennuti)Trey Lance (QB, North Dakota State)

I told myself that I wouldn’t let my Denver Broncos draft a quarterback with this pick unless one of the top guys were sill available. As much as I want to take Micah Parsons here and boost the linebacker core, passing up Lance at this spot is inexcusable. 

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No. 10 Dallas Cowboys (Jordan White)Patrick Surtain II (CB, Alabama)

Dallas drafted Trevon Diggs last year out of Alabama. However, they are still lacking in depth at the CB position. Surtain was the number one CB in college football last season and, even as a rookie, can provide the Cowboys with the extra help they need in the secondary.

No. 11 New York Giants (Jacob Mennuti)Rashawn Slater (OL, Northwestern)

I want to take Smith with this pick so bad, but after signing Kenny Golladay, I think the Giants’ wide receiving core is good enough to pass him up for Slater, who could end up being the best offensive linemen from this draft class. 

No. 12 Philadelphia Eagles (Ryan Wohl)Devonta Smith (WR, Alabama)

This is an easy choice for a team who had one of the worst receiving cores a season ago and lost their two best guys with Alshon Jeffrey and Deshaun Jackson. Smith is a steal at this pick as he is coming off the first Heisman season by a wide receiver in 30 years after recording 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns. 

No. 13 Los Angeles Chargers (Jake Faigus)Christian Darrisaw (OL, Virginia Tech)

The Chargers need to get Justin Herbert more protection up front and with Sewell going off the board, Darrisaw becomes the next best option for the Chargers to ensure that Herbert has protection up front.

No. 14 Minnesota Vikings (Sean Fagan)Kwity Paye (DT, Michigan) 

Since the Vikings owe QB Kirk Cousins so much money, it would not make sense to draft another quarterback. Paye was not able to display much during the 2020 season because of COVID-19, but in 2019 he had 26 tackles, 24 assisted tackles and 6.5 sacks. Paye is the quick pass rusher the Vikings need. 

No. 15 New England Patriots (Ari Koslow)Mac Jones (QB, Alabama)

I was looking at New England potentially trading up with either the Lions, Panthers or Cowboys to select Jones but in this mock draft, the Patriots were able to grab him without having to give up any assets. I believe this year’s draft is going to be so interesting simply because you have someone like Jones who could go as early as No. 3 while also potentially falling to the No. 15 selection. The Patriots would have Jones sit behind Cam Newton for likely most of this upcoming season, either letting Jones under center late this upcoming season or potentially not until the 2022 season. 

No. 16 Arizona Cardinals (Jake Faigus)Greg Newsome II (CB, Northwestern) 

The Cardinals have filled up their roster well in free agency, but they need more depth at cornerback with Patrick Peterson leaving. Newsome would be a great addition for the spot in the draft the Cardinals see themselves in. This is the player I see the Cardinals drafting.

No. 17 Las Vegas Raiders (Patrick Carr)Teven Jenkins (OT, OKSU)

After trading Trent Brown and losing two other starting linemen (Rodney Hudson, Gabe Jackson) in the offseason, the Raiders are transitioning to a younger and cheaper offensive line. We know Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock are not a BPA draft type and look for need, where a really good and pro ready player in Jenkins falls in their lap at No. 17. 

No. 18 Miami Dolphins (Devin Homer)Najee Harris (RB, Alabama)

With Tagovailoa at QB, the Dolphins need a consistent running back to take the load off of him. Harris showed he is capable of doing just that in his senior year at Alabama where he ran for 1466 yards and had 26 touchdowns. 

No. 19 Washington Football Team (Sean Fagan)Micah Parsons (LB, Penn State)

While Parsons may have issues off the field, he has no problem taking care of business on the field. Even though Parsons did not play the 2020, he had 52 tackles, five sacks and four forced fumbles in 2019. It is hard to imagine Parsons falling this far, but it would be a benefit to him if he does. Head coach Ron Rivera is a coach who specializes in defense, especially linebackers. In his time with Carolina, Rivera turned former linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis into a one-two punch that plugged every running back hole and caused headaches for quarterbacks up the middle. If Parsons was to be coached by Rivera, he too may be turned into a lethal weapon on a Washington defense.

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No. 20 Chicago Bears (Bryan Savic)Kyle Trask (QB, Florida)

Barring Chicago doesn’t move up in the draft, there is a really good chance that they’re going with the best available quarterback here. Trask fits that bill and would make for a solid quarterback competition with Andy Dalton in Halas Hall. Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy have nothing to lose at this point except for their jobs if they swing and miss on this pick and in the draft in general.

No 21. Indianapolis Colts (CJ Lala)Alijah Vera-Tucker (OT, USC)

With the retirement of left-tackle Anthony Castonzo, the Colts will look to replace him in this year's draft. Tucker is seen as a prospect with one of the highest floors in the draft as he gives the Colts a good versatile lineman that can project to be either a guard or tackle at the next level.  

No. 22 Tennessee Titans (Ryan Wohl)Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (LB, Notre Dame)

The Titans have a pretty good offense but need their defense to improve to get to that next tier of teams along with the Chiefs and Bills. The right pick late in the first round is to take the best available player and they are getting a good one with Owusu-Koramoah as he was the 2020 ACC Defensive Player of the Year while totaling over 140 tackles in his two seasons at Notre Dame. 

No. 23 New York Jets (Bryan Savic)Kadarius Toney (WR, Florida)

After nabbing their quarterback of the future in Fields, the Jets will look to add a big-time playmaker and give Fields a great option on the outside. Toney is one of the most explosive playmakers in this draft and will immediately be a starter on Day 1. Look for Toney to put the entire league on notice as a kickoff/punt return ace. This guy has Devin Hester written all over him.

No. 24 Pittsburgh Steelers (CJ Lala)Travis Etienne (RB, Clemson) 

After losing James Connor in free agency, one of the biggest holes the Steelers need to fill is running back. Etienne is coming into Pittsburgh with 4,952 yards and 70 touchdowns in his four years a Clemson. He also brings a receiving option out of the backfield, which the Steelers have not had since Le’Veon Bell as he tallied 588 receiving yards in his final season at Clemson. 

No. 25 Jacksonville Jaguars (Patrick Carr)Gregory Rousseau (EDGE, Miami)

The Jags are in complete rebuild mode and after nabbing Urban Meyer and Trevor Lawrence. Their window to become relevant has started. Rousseau is an athletic and physical freak and has all the tools to become a good pass rusher, he just needs plenty of reps before he gets there. 

No. 26 Cleveland Browns (Ryan Wohl)Caleb Farley (DB, Virginia Tech)

The last time we saw the Browns was when they blew a big lead to the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs and the main reason why they couldn’t keep up with them was because of their defensive backs. Farley opted out of the 2020-21 season, but in his previous two years he had six interceptions and 56 tackles which is incredible for a young defensive back. 

No. 27 Baltimore Ravens (Ari Koslow)Azeez Ojulari (EDGE, Georgia)

I spent the last few days debating between wide receiver Rashod Bateman and EDGE Jaelan Phillips with this selection, not expecting Ojulari to fall this far. This is another scenario where I find it a little hard to believe Ojulari falls this far come Thursday in the actual NFL draft, but we’ve seen talented players fall before so anything is possible. This would be a no-brainer in my opinion if he fell this far to the Ravens. 

No. 28 New Orleans Saints (Jake Faigus)Jayson Oweh (EDGE, Penn State)

Another area on defense that New Orleans could go is the linebacker position. They need some depth with that position, and Oweh would be one of the best available at this point in the draft. He’d be on the outside lining up against slot receivers and providing a nice boost against outside runs too.

No. 29 Green Bay Packers (Devin Homer)Rondale Moore (WR, Purdue)

Moore will flourish in Green Bay with Davante Adams and Aaron Jones drawing double-teams. Moore is the most explosive player coming out of the draft with a 4.29, 40-yard dash with a 42.5-inch vertical jump. 

No. 30 Buffalo Bills (Patrick Carr)Trevon Moehrig-Woodard (S, TCU)

The Bills are one of the most complete teams in the league and have their franchise QB figured out. Moehrig-Woodard is a great cover safety and one of the safer picks in the draft. He can be an instant plug-and-play guy for a secondary that is chasing to stop the Chiefs passing attack. 

No. 31 Baltimore Ravens (Jordan White)Liam Eichenberg (OT, Notre Dame)

The Ravens traded away OT Orlando Brown for this pick. Having already drafted an edge rusher with the No. 27 pick, it makes sense to re-up at the OT position with a younger player with major upside in Eichenberg. 

No. 32 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Patrick Carr)Christian Barmore (DT, Alabama)

The Bucs are pretty much stacked everywhere and somehow get the most talented DT in this draft to fall to their lap. Barmore has some character issued swirling around but you can’t deny the talent. Those character issues will quickly go away playing with Brady and the Bucs.


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